by RAY FLEMING
DAVID Blunkett was right to resign yesterday. It was better that he should take the initiative himself than wait for the formal outcome of Sir Alan Budd's inquiry. When Sir Alan told Mr Blunkett on Tuesday that he had unearthed emails and faxes showing that the visa application of Kimberley Quinn's nanny had been fast-tracked, he must have known that he had no alternative. The damning words were: “No favours but slightly quicker.” When I first wrote in this space on 30 November about Mr Blunkett and the visa affair I said a crucial factor would be “whether the fact that the application had been handled in the Home Secretary's office would be enough for staff down the line to assume that it had some kind of priority.” This is almost certainly what happened and it is a major criticism of Mr Blunkett's that he never acknowledged that his involvement would be interpreted in that way. Whether his extraordinarily misguided opinions on his Cabinet colleagues in the new biography of him has hastened his departure is not clear but, as we saw at Prime Minister's Questions yesterday, Michael Howard intended to make full use of these unguarded and offensive comments. Mr Blunkett's departure from a key position in the Government will give Tony Blair several problems, although he may quickly move Charles Clarke from Education to the Home Office. More serious may be the doubts that the affair have cast over Mr Blair's own judgement. His unqualified defence of Mr Blunkett from the start and his certainty that he would be absolved from blame, and his support even after criticisms of his colleagues became known, did not show a Prime Minister exercising objective judgement.

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